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MINI BIBLE COLLEGE

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY (Part 1)

Study BOOKLET #6

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

2

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

Chapter 1 The Law of Marriage and Family Many years ago in America, a man was having mechanical trouble with his old car, so he pulled off to the side of the road.

A well-dressed man, who was driving by in a fancy car,

stopped to help the man whose car was broken down.

He got out

of his car and opened the hood of the broken automobile.

The

broken car was a Ford, a popular model of cars in America.

The

well-dressed man started working on the engine and soon had it fixed.

The man who owned the old car asked the other, “How do

you know so much about a Ford?” “I am Henry Ford.

The well-dressed man replied,

I made this automobile, and I am the owner of

the company that produces these automobiles.” Just as we would expect Henry Ford to be able to tell us how to fix one of his cars, we can expect God to be able to tell us how to fix a marriage, because He created marriage.

This

presentation of the principles of marriage and family is based on Scripture.

It assumes that since God is the One Who created

marriage and family, God is the One Who can tell us how to fix a broken marriage.

God can also tell us what a marriage is, the

purpose of a marriage and His blueprint for marriage and family.

What Did Jesus Teach about Marriage and Family? We who are disciples of Jesus Christ should always begin every study by asking, “What did Jesus teach on this subject?” When

the

religious

leaders

asked

Jesus

about

marriage

and

divorce, He replied with another question: “Have you never read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4).

Jesus was saying in principle, “If you want to

3

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

understand marriage as it is, you must go back to the beginning and study marriage as God intended to be.” God’s Blueprint for Marriage “In the Beginning, God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’ … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; populate the earth and subdue it.’” (Genesis 1:26–28) All through the creation account, God looks at what He creates and says, “It is good.”

But when you get to chapter 2,

you find the words, “It is not good.” was not good for man to be alone.

What was not good?

It

“So the LORD God caused the

man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said, ‘This is

now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’

For this reason a man

will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they two will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21–24) God saw that man alone was incomplete.

The Hebrew wording

in the text suggests, “I am going to make a completer for him.” That is what helpmeet, or “helper suitable for him,” means in the Hebrew — “a completer”. From the beginning God gave us role definitions

for

without a woman.

marriage

and

family.

A

man

is

incomplete

A woman is designed to complete a man.

The creation account is repeated in chapter 2, and a third time in Genesis 5:1–2, with an emphasis on God creating man male and female.

Be sure to make the observation, that in Genesis 5,

God does not call them, “The Adamses,” but “Adam.”

Since the

word “Adam” means, “man,” this is teaching in a subtle way that a man and a woman joined together in Holy matrimony are one 4

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

whole man.

This is another way of saying that the two are

designed to be one. Persons, Partners, and Parents What we see so far in Scripture is a law of life. call it “The Law of Marriage and Family.”

We could

For this plan to

work, God has to have two adequate parents.

For them to be

adequate parents, they must have an adequate partnership.

And

in order to have an adequate partnership, they must be adequate persons. When He created Adam and Eve, the partnership God designed was not two parasites trying to suck all the life they can from each other.

Nor did the plan call for a person and a parasite,

where one person is sucking the life out of the other.

The plan

was — and is — two whole persons who are building life in each other

and

building

a

life

created man and woman.

together

as

God

intended

when

He

This principle is just as true today as

it was at creation. However, this blueprint is under severe attack today.

For

example, the accepted blueprint for the relationship between a man and woman today says that a woman has to prove her equality with a man by doing everything a man does.

The theory is that

if she does not have the same role and function as a man, she does not have the same worth as a man. The male chauvinist proclaims the supremacy of men, while feminists

proclaim

the

supremacy

of

women



as

if

the

relationship between men and women were an either/or situation. According

to

the

biblical

blueprint,

the

relationship is a both/and relationship of oneness.

male-female If these

two were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary. deliberately

created

us

uniquely

because each complements the other.

male

and

uniquely

God

female

The culture is determined

to diminish the differences between the sexes by making the role 5

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

and function of the male and female exactly the same.

But,

there is a beautiful diversity and a wonderful purpose in the way God created man male and female. One way to illustrate this basic law of marriage and family is to picture a pyramid divided into thirds.

Across the bottom

third write “persons,” across the middle third write “partners,” and in the top third write “parents.”

Parents Partners Persons

To build a pyramid, you cannot begin with the top third held the pyramid.

In the same way, it is not the plan of God to

begin building a home with two adequate parents who do not have a God-ordained partnership.

Furthermore, it is not the plan of

God to have the middle third of the pyramid without the bottom third. parents

The is

foundation

two

adequate

pyramid is foundational.

of

the

partnership

persons.

The

that

bottom

makes

third

of

good the

Likewise, the vital part of a marriage

is the two persons who make up that marriage. The Place to Begin There

are

four

problem

areas

in

every

marriage.

In

a

marriage between John and Mary, problem number one is John. Problem area number two is Mary.

The third problem area is John

and Mary with all their compatibility issues.

The children of

John and Mary are the fourth problem area of their marriage. If John has fifty problems, and Mary has fifty problems, their marriage has a hundred problems before they approach all the problems they have as John and Mary. 6

If John decides that

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

he wants to work on his marriage, he should begin with problem area number one - himself. number two - herself.

Mary should begin with problem area

If you are incapable of acknowledging or

accepting the fact that you are part of the problem, no marriage counselor in the world can help your marriage.

But if you solve

the problems in your life, you have solved a lot of the problems in the partnership. Let me share a story that illustrates this: A man went to his psychiatrist with lettuce and three eggs on his head, and a strip of bacon on each ear. and sit down.

The doctor invited him to come in

The man sat down very carefully so the eggs would

not slide off his head.

The doctor said, “Do you want to talk

about it?” And he said, “Yes, doctor, I want to talk to you about my brother.

Now, my brother, he really has problems.”

Pastors and marriage counselors meet people like that every day, people who will not acknowledge the possibility that they can be part of the problem.

As Jesus said, “You have a log in

your eye, and you are going around looking for specks in other people’s eyes.” (Matthew 7:3, paraphrase)

Hypercritical people

are experts on what is wrong with everybody else, especially in their homes and marriages.

They place the blame on everyone

else and it never occurs to them that they could be part of the problem even when it is obvious to everyone that they are the biggest part of the problem. The greatest marriage counseling in the world is found in the Bible. In this booklet, we will look at some of the marriage counsel the Bible offers. patterns and principles.

As we do, we will discover some One such pattern is this: every time

the Bible addresses a marriage, it isolates the two partners into persons.

It then addresses the man about his role.

When

it does, it tells the man what his responsibilities are in the marriage.

When it addresses the women, the Bible instructs the

woman about her responsibilities in the marriage. 7

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

For

example,

First

Peter

3

begins

by

addressing

women,

particularly women whose husbands are not obeying the Word.

For

the next six verses, Peter does not say anything to or about the husband.

Instead, he instructs wives on a variety of matters,

including purity, dress, and submission.

He is telling the

women to begin with problem area-number two.

They are to ask

God to make them everything he wants them to be and do in their marriage. Then,

Peter

addresses

the

husbands

about

problem

area

number one. The Bible always addresses issues both realistically and practically.

Scripture even addresses children about their

roles and responsibilities toward their parents.

The Bible is

realistic when it does this because the only one you can do anything about is the person for whom you are responsible yourself. It takes some married people a long time to learn this, but in the final analysis you will learn and then say, “I cannot do anything about my spouse.”

You really cannot.

At the judgment

seat of God, you will not answer for your spouse before God. You

will

not

be

responsible

to

give

an

account

for

them.

Instead, you will accountable for the one person for whom you are responsible.

You will be accountable for yourself.

You

will be wise if you begin that ultimate accountability now by being responsible for the only person in your marriage you can control. There are many times in counseling sessions with married couples that a pastor cannot meet with the husband and wife together because he will be like a referee presiding over their fights.

He

individually.

would

be

wise

if

he

met

with

each

person

After helping each person address their problems,

he could then move on to their partnership and compatibility issues.

If the individual persons are not believers who are

related personally to Jesus Christ, the priority of the pastor 8

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

is to lead that husband or wife to salvation and a relationship with God through Christ.

Marriage counseling can be a very

fruitful evangelistic tool for a spiritual counselor or pastor. A husband was told by his pastor, “Marriage is not a fiftyfifty proposition; it is not even two people one hundred percent for each other. God.”

Marriage is two people one hundred percent for

The husband went home and told his wife, “The pastor

said, ‘Marriage is one hundred to nothing. and

you

are

the

acknowledging foundation problems

nothing.’”

the

of

begin

hard

the

reality

marriage

and

this

problems must begin.

Some

people

that

where

have

the

pyramid.

is

I’m the one hundred hard

“persons”

This the

a

is

where

solution

to

are

time the

marital marriage

When they do accept that reality, they

must then realize that the one person with whom they must begin is the person they can do something about - they must begin with themselves. What Marriage Means to God If you come to this study of marriage and family asking, “What’s in it for me?” the answer is that there is a lot in it for you.

Next to salvation, a happy home is the most wonderful

thing in the world.

But if you really want to get a biblical

perspective on this study of marriage and family, you should ask, “What’s in it for God?”

What does marriage mean to Him?

Why did He institute marriage? female?

Why did He create us male and

The answer is that God wanted to populate the earth

with good people. Psalm

128

is

one

of

the

expressions of this divine plan. LORD, who walk in his ways. labor;

blessings

and

greatest

and

most

eloquent

“Blessed are all who fear the

You will eat the fruit of your

prosperity

will

be

yours.”

(1–2)

Many

people would like to put a period after the third word of verse 1: “Blessed are all.”

Today, many people preach universalism, 9

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

which in part says that since God is a loving God, all people are blessed.

But the Scripture does not teach that.

This is

one of the “blessed man” psalms, a theme in the Book of Psalms. These psalms teach that the blessings of the blessed man are not a coincidence or an accident.

They are the result of faith and

obedience to God. The emphasis of this blessed man psalm is to show us how God uses the blessed man, how the blessed man fits into God’s scheme of things.

The psalmist continues, “Your wife will be

like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. … May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children and peace upon Israel.” (128:3, 5–6) This is a profile of the way God works in the world. works through the law of marriage and family.

He

He finds a man

who will believe in Him and walk in His ways, and He blesses that man.

When He brings a woman into that man’s life and

completes him, He makes that man a father.

As a result of these

two persons becoming partners, they produce a family.

These

children are with them for about twenty years, being nurtured and prepared to face life.

This family unit becomes part of

Zion (the Old Testament spiritual community), to impact their city

(Jerusalem),

their

nation

(Israel),

and

ultimately

the

world. In the Old Testament, the word Zion is the equivalent of the New Testament concept of the church. the world?

How does God work in

Followers of Christ tend to think that He works

primarily through the church.

God and Christ do work through

the church, but a church is made up of family units. basic unit in the world is the family.

The most

God uses the family unit

to impact Zion (the church). As these family units come together into

the

spiritual

community,

they 10

impact

the

city

and

the

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

nation and ultimately the world.

Now if things are not right in

the world, if they are not right in the nation, if they are not right in the city, where do you find the problem and affect the solution?

You

address

and

solve

the

problem

where

God

is

issue

to

the

placing the solitary in families. (Psalm 68:6) Years

ago

a

magazine

dedicated

problem of children and crime.

an

entire

The various experts who wrote

the articles explored different possibilities. government’s fault?

Could it be the

Could it be the fault of education?

culture the problem?

Or is

Some writers even questioned churches,

synagogues, and mosques.

These institutions may very well not

be doing what they are supposed to do.

But ultimately, all the

sociologists and juvenile court judges and social workers who contributed to these articles came to this one conclusion: The problem is the family. The Man’s Responsibility According to the Bible’s law of marriage and family, the responsibility starts with the man.

As I consider the problems

of marriage and family today, I believe the greatest problem is men who will not accept the responsibility to be what God wants the man to be as the head of his home — the spiritual priest of his home.

According to Psalm 128, the blessing of God in this

world begins when a man believes in God and walks in His ways. When a man fears God and walks in His ways, God has a foundation on which He can build His family pyramid.

He can put the law of

marriage and family in place because He has found a blessed man. God can now join this blessed man to a blessed woman and they can have blessed children.

God can now impact a home, a church,

a city, a country, and the world.

It all begins with a blessed

man. The unprecedented breakdown of marriage and family today, however, has left young adults without role models to follow. 11

I

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

could tell you about a dozen men who have asked me to be their father because they did not have a father.

One very large mean

looking young man who had been married for several years made an appointment and said to me: “I do not want to have children until I know how to be a father.

Will you father me for a

while?” Couples in premarital counseling have said to me, “We are so

worried

about

having

a

successful

marriage.

So

many

marriages are ending in divorce, and we have never even seen a good marriage.

Our parents split up and we do not even know

what a Christian marriage and family looks like.

How can we be

sure that we can have a happy marriage and family?” So, how do you build and nurture a happy home?

Solomon,

the wisest man who ever lived, uses one of his favorite words when he writes in Psalm 127, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.

Unless the LORD watches over the

city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

In vain you rise early

and stay up late, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” These

two

verses

are

a

capsule

words of wisdom of Solomon’s life.

autobiography,

or

dying

This short Psalm is an

abbreviated version of his great sermon called, “Ecclesiastes.” His favorite word in both these summaries of his God story is the word “vain”. Solomon was the quintessential and classic workaholic, yet he tells us here that it is possible to work in vain.

He must

have worried about many things, but here he tells us that it is in vain that we rise up early, go to bed late and eat the bread of anxious toil. in vain.

He also tells us that it is possible to build

Solomon was a great builder.

He did not only build a

temple; he built cities and parks and stables.

One time he

built a fleet of ships only to go out and say hello to a queen. There was no end to his building. 12

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

It is possible to worry in vain because you can worry about the wrong things.

It is possible to work in vain because you

work for the wrong things.

It is possible to build in vain

because you build the wrong things. Then Solomon turns to the subject of children. previous

comments

have

to

do

with

children?

What do his Everything.

Solomon realized that he built everything except the lives of his children.

Now the wise king says, “Children are an heritage

from the LORD, children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the

hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. man whose quiver is full of them.

Blessed is the

They will not be put to shame

when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” (3–5) This psalm is a great negative application of the law of marriage and family.

Solomon is saying, “Do not do what I did

because I worked in vain and built in vain and worried in vain. What you really need to concern yourself with is your children.” He concludes this Psalm with a profound metaphor in which he tells us that parents are to their children as a bow is to the arrows of a mighty warrior.

The amount of thrust and direction

with which his bow shoots out arrows, depends on the amount of thrust and direction with which the arrows leave his bow. Our children are the arrows and we parents are the bow from which our children are thrust out into the world.

When we

realize the challenge this presents to us as parents, we must go back to the opening two verses and be reminded of the statement that we cannot build a family unless the Lord is the builder. Another beautiful metaphor illustrates this truth that we cannot, but God can build a marriage and family. His beloved in his sleep, according to Solomon.

He gives to As long as we

stay awake and try to help God put energy in our bodies, God cannot restore us physically.

But, when we become passive and

go to sleep, God can become active and restore our tired bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. 13

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

A Quality Marriage As our pyramid illustrates, quality parents are a result of godly persons who have entered into a God-ordained partnership. For the marriage to remain strong — and thus for parents to be effective in raising their children — God must be central to the marriage relationship.

We can never perform in our roles of

spouse and parent unless God helps us. This

is

clearly

seen

in

Matthew

19,

questioned about marriage and divorce.

where

Jesus

was

He acknowledged that

Moses permitted divorce, but that was for the protection of women whose husbands were putting them out in the streets. those days women had no rights.

They had no settlement.

In

So out

of compassion for those women, Moses gave the Israelites the decree

of

divorce,

according to Jesus.

but

that

was

never

the

intent

of

God,

God’s intent in the beginning was that

there would be no divorce. Then one of the apostles — and I imagine it was Peter — said, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matthew 19:10) Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given” (11) — meaning, only those whom the Holy Spirit enlightens and helps can understand and apply this teaching.

Without God’s help, Jesus was saying, it is

impossible to be an adequate marriage partner. Solomon and Jesus are telling us, that without God, it is impossible to build our homes.

We labor in vain without Him.

We cannot be adequate parents without God’s help, and we cannot be adequate partners without God’s help.

The whole teaching of

Scripture is that we cannot be adequate persons without God’s help.

That

according

to

which Jesus.

is

born

(John

of

3:6)

14

the The

flesh flesh

is is

simply

flesh,

human

nature

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

unaided by God.

Jesus also told us that without Him, we can do

nothing. (John 15:5) If you would like to have a marriage in the sight of God, a marriage put together by God, a marriage brought together by God, and a marriage kept together by God, a marriage that will fulfill God’s purposes, then pray this prayer: “O loving Heavenly Father, bless this house. Bless our house with the light of Your presence. Energize with the love of Your Spirit The relationships that make this house a home. Heal

us

as

persons,

that

we

might

have

a

wholesome

partnership, And be wise and loving parents. Show us how to access Your grace all day, every day. We pray that everything we do here in this house Will be done in Christ, by Christ, and for Christ. May the light, the life, and the love of the risen, living Christ So empower us and control us That we will be Christ’s representatives When we come in, when we go out, and Especially as we live together within these walls.

Make this home a symbol of hope That will point to the One Who put this home together in His Word, Who brought it together through His Spirit, And who keeps it together by His grace. In Jesus’ name, Father, bless our home. 15

Amen.”

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

Chapter 2 A Marriage in the Sight of God There

is

a

passage

in

the

Gospels

where

we

find

clear

teaching from Jesus on the subject of marriage and divorce.

I

have already referenced this passage but I must return to it now because it presents Jesus quoting Moses and gives us the Old and New Testament answers to the question, “What is a marriage in the sight of God?” “Some Pharisees came to Him to test Him.

They asked, ‘Is

it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Have not you read,’ He replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” so they are no longer two, but one?

Therefore what God has joined together,

let man not separate.’ “‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’

Jesus

replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.

But it was not this way from the beginning.

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.’ “Jesus’ disciples then said to Him, ‘If that is how it is, it is better not to marry!’

Jesus said, ‘Not everyone can

accept this statement, Only those whom God helps.” 19:11)

16

(Matthew

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

Marriage is a Providential Relationship The first of the seven dimensions of this relationship, as I

explained

in

chapter

1,

is

that

there

is

a

providential

dimension to the relationship between a man and a woman.

In the

creation chapter of the Bible, we see the Creator bring a male and

a

female

together

into

a

“oneness”.

Jesus

defined

a

marriage in the sight of God when He declared, “Whom therefore God has joined together let no man separate.”

A marriage is a

marriage in the sight of God when we can say the Lord joined a man and a woman together.

Divine guidance should then be the

basis of our decision to marry. The

relationship

is

providential

because

God

put

the

relationship together when He gave us the blueprint for that relationship in His Word.

God brought this couple together when

He made them one flesh, and Jesus tells us that only God can keep this man and woman together. Because each partner brings his or her own problems into a marriage relationship, the challenge is to see ourselves in our marriages—the

roles,

mandated to assume.

functions,

and

responsibilities

we

are

We need to see the contribution we are

supposed to make to the marriage and be concerned about whether or not we are making that contribution. Conversely, we need to accept responsibility for the problems we bring to the marriage. Marriage is a Permanent Relationship From marriage

the is

teaching

of

of

necessity

Jesus a

in

Matthew

permanent

19,

we

relationship.

marriage to be a permanent relationship?

see

that

Why

is

The answer can be

summed up in two words: children’s rights. Remember the illustration of marriage Solomon gave us in Psalm 127? arrow.

The parents are to the children like a bow is to an

The amount of thrust and direction with which children

go out into life depends upon the bow from which they have been 17

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

thrust.

Now, if you were the devil and you wanted to destroy

the family, what would you do? that bow?

Would not you cut the string on

Would not you want to break that bow?

exactly what Satan is doing.

That is

He is busy trying to destroy the

families, cutting the string on that bow. The law of life God designed for marriage and the family is one of the oldest and greatest laws of God in the Bible because it creates a home that automatically gives children about twenty years of nurture before they go out into the world and face life.

They need that nurture and security.

When you cut the

string on this bow, when a marriage ends, you rob children of the nurture, security, and direction God intended when He wrote the law of marriage and family in the first two chapters of the Bible.

This is one of the biggest problems children have today.

A seventy-eight-year-old counselor who has counseled adolescents for a life time said, “For the first time in my counseling experience, the biggest question I am being asked by kids is, ‘How can I keep my folks together?’” This is why Jesus said a marriage has to be a permanent relationship.

Your

children

are

only

marriage, and they know that intuitively.

as

secure

as

your

If you want to see a

look of terror on the faces of your children, glance at them when you are having a fight with your spouse.

When they see

their father and mother fighting, they feel less secure.

On the

other hand, if you want to see happiness on their faces, show affection; kiss your spouse in front of your children. tease you if you do, but do not let that fool you. that!

They may They like

When they see displays of tenderness and affection, it

looks to them as if your marriage is doing fine, and that gives them security. Sometimes

people

are

in

their

before they come to faith in Christ.

second

or

third

marriage

When they come to faith,

they are in another marriage and have children from previous 18

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

marriages.

How does Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce

apply to them? Jesus always passed the law of God through the prism of the love of God before He applied the law to the lives of people. The difference between Him and the religious establishment of His day was that He never lost sight of the fact that the law of God came out of the heart of God’s love for man.

The intent of

the law of God in Scripture is to express the love of God for man.

God wants us to have it

as good as we possibly can.

is why He gave us His Holy Word.

He was not trying to see how

unhappy He could make us by making up a bunch of rules. wants us to be happy.

That He

There is always a purpose for every law

of God in the Scripture, and it ultimately comes down to man’s well-being because God loves man. The Pharisees, the religious establishment, lost sight of that spirit of the law.

They enjoyed catching people who had

slipped and broken even one part of the law.

But Jesus never

lost sight of His Father’s purpose when He gave the law through Moses.

Jesus consistently focused the issue, “Why did God give

that law?

In what sense does this law express the love of God

for man and man’s well-being?” The purpose of the law of marriage and family, for example, is that we might have a happy, Christ-centered home.

We read in

the creation account that it is not good for a human being to be alone and that motivated God to place the lonely in families. (Psalm 68:6)

He does not want us to be alone.

(For more

information on this subject, see chapter 6 of this booklet.) Marriage Is An Exclusive Relationship Not only is marriage to be a providential and permanent relationship, according to Jesus and Moses, it must also of necessity be an exclusive relationship.

The oneness between a

man and woman is exclusive in at least two senses. 19

Moses wrote:

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother…” Jesus agreed

with

marriage

Moses

and

when

divorce

He

gave

(Matthew

parents of the married couple.

His

definitive

19:5)

Marriage

statement excludes

of the

Now, this does not mean you can

not have a good relationship with your parents once you are married.

But it does mean that you will not live in their home

anymore.

And if you are a woman, your father is no longer your

spiritual head; your husband is. Marriage is also exclusive in an intimate sense.

Jesus

taught that marriage is like a contract between a man and a woman.

A

condition

exclusiveness.

on

which

that

contract

is

based

is

When the exclusiveness is violated, the marriage

contract can be considered null and void. be, but it can be.

It does not have to

God did not design marriage so that anyone

has to live with a spouse who will not live in that relationship exclusively.

God does not ask you to do that.

If your spouse

will not live with you exclusively in this relationship, then you can declare the contract null and void, according to Jesus, because marriage is an exclusive relationship. One day a man came to see me who worked at a hotel near the ocean, not far from where I was a pastor.

He had met a girl

during the summer and he loved her very much. pre-marital physical relationship all summer.

They had a fiery, When the summer

ended, she went back to college, but she would come and visit him on weekends when she could. come to visit.

Then one weekend she did not

She called him on the phone and told him she was

not going to visit anymore. He sat in my office and literally cried as if his heart was broken.

His heart was broken.

Finally, he said to me, “You

know, a relationship like this, where the feelings are so deep and so intimate, should come with some protection.”

He sobbed

that he did not want to put all his feelings into something that was not secure, something that could end with 20

a note slipped

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

under the door or a phone call — or even the lack of a note or a phone call.

He was ready to hear that the marriage relationship

blueprinted by Moses and Jesus mandated the very guarantees he was so eloquently describing. God does not want you to be insecure in a relationship as intimate

as

marriage.

That

is

why

Jesus

and

Moses

made

“exclusiveness” a condition of the marriage contract.

Chapter 3 The Seven Links of Oneness A devout African believer carved a beautiful symbol that profiles the relationship God intended when He created the first couple and declared them to be “one flesh”.

When this talented

believer made his woodcarving, he was illustrating seven ways in which a husband and wife are to be one flesh. His beautiful carving is of a man and a woman carved out of one piece of wood. double links.

They are joined together by a chain of five

This chain that joins them together is joined to

a link each of them has on the top of their head.

Each of these

links represents a dimension of the oneness God intended for a husband and wife to have.

The links on the top of their heads

represent the spiritual relationship they each have with God. The fact that all the other links are joined to these two links represents the fact that their spiritual relationship is the foundation of their oneness. The first double link represents communication, which is the

tool

that

makes

it

maintain their oneness.

possible

for

them

to

cultivate

and

The next link is compatibility, which

is the evidence of their oneness. 21

The middle of these five

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

links represents love, which is the dynamic of their oneness. The love link is followed by the link of understanding, which represents the growth of their oneness.

The last of these

double links that make them one flesh is sex, which is the joyful expression of their oneness. links

are

double

links

presents

the

The fact that all these reality

that

all

these

dimensions of oneness are reciprocal, or involve a giving and receiving between them.

When you add these five links to the

links they each have on their heads, you have the seven links of oneness. Our broadcasts on marriage and family were based on the seven dimensions of marriage that are represented by the seven links that make this man and wife one flesh.

In two booklets, I

want to give you a summary of what you heard on these broadcasts about the law of marriage and family. The Spiritual Link Bible

scholars

believe

King

Solomon

was

giving

us

an

observation about marriage when he preached that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

A rope or a

cable with three strands is hard to break because the strands intertwine and provide great strength. When God designed the oneness between a man and a woman that is providential, permanent, and exclusive, He meant that they should be one with each other and one with their Creator. That

is

the

way

God

designed

marriage

to

be.

There

is

a

beautiful metaphor that you can still find on the gravestones of Jewish children today: “Bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God.” (I Samuel 25:29) That would make an appropriate label to write across every marriage in the sight of God today. The

three

represent

strands the

in

marriage

the of

beautiful two

husband, the wife, and Christ. 22

metaphor

believers

in

of

Solomon

this

way:

can the

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

In

the

great

marriage

chapter

of

the

Apostle

Paul,

he

exhorts devout couples to separate themselves for brief periods of time that they might give themselves to prayer and fasting. He

is

actually

couple.

His

relationship

addressing reasoning

and

their

the is

sexual

relationship

obviously

oneness

is

that

of

their

strengthened

this

sexual

by

their

spiritual oneness with their Creator (I Corinthians 7:3-5). I will discuss physical unity later, but I would now like to make some observations about what Paul is implying in this passage about the most intimate relationship in your life.

The

most intimate and private relationship in your life is not your relationship with your spouse, but your relationship with God. Paul is teaching that our relationship with God is intimate, individual and private. If the marriage is strengthened by separating ourselves and individually getting close to God, this means we still relate to God individually even after we are a married couple.

If you

will think about it, when we stand before God in judgment, we must all answer to God for ourselves, not for our spouses.

We

will stand before the Judgment Seat as individuals, not together as man and wife.

The marriage of two believers is as strong or

as weak as the individual oneness the man and wife have with God.

If

the

man

has

a

strong

faith

and

relationship

with

Christ, and the woman has the same thing, then when they come together they have something in common — they have a spiritual dimension in their marriage that will greatly strengthen their relationship with each other. When a husband and wife have their private quiet times of prayer, Bible, and devotional reading, this will help them make it through the difficult times.

From time to time they may be

upset with each other because of something they have said or done, but when they come back from their private times with God, they will be at peace with the Lord — and with each other. 23

As

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

they both get closer to the Lord and move through the day, they will experience a growing closeness to God and with each other. If you are not as close to each other as you want to be, individually, get closer to God.

That is the way the spiritual

link of oneness is designed to strengthen a marriage. husband should

and say

wife these

each

have

this

spiritual

spiritual

links

are

the

link

Since the

with

foundation

God, of

I

the

marriage God has blueprinted for us in the Bible.

Chapter 4 The Communication Link When

couples

meet

with

their

pastor

or

a

marriage

counselor, one of the first problems they focus on is their problem

with

session

by

communication.

saying,

“We

They

have

no

often

begin

communication.

a

counseling

We

do

not

communicate.” Communication

is

a

dimension

of

marriage

that

can

dynamically help the two to become one flesh because it is a tool that makes it possible for them to work on their oneness. As born again believers, we have oneness with Christ. with the Savior does not take care of itself. maintained.

It has to be cultivated.

Oneness

It has to be

That is why you have to

spend time daily with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading.

In

other words, we maintain and cultivate our relationship with Christ by communicating with Him in prayer and listening for His voice when we open our Bibles. The same thing is true in a marriage. cultivate our relationship. can

use

to

cultivate

and

We must maintain and

Communication is a tool a couple maintain 24

their

oneness.

Bacteria

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

multiply in the dark, but cannot live in the light.

If two

people do not communicate, a lot of “bacteria” builds up between them.

That’s why Paul exhorts us to “renounce the hidden things

of dishonesty.” (2 Corinthians 4:2) When we are dishonest and hide things from each other, we keep the “bacteria” in the dark. Communication is like turning a light on our relationship. we do, a lot of our “bacteria” dies.

When

With good communication,

we can then address what does not die, as the “light” of our communication becomes a tool that cultivates and maintains our oneness. Dictionaries

define

communication

as

“a

giving

and

a

receiving of information, messages and ideas by talk, gestures, or other means.”

This definition tells us several things about

communication.

First,

communicating”. that

is

not

there

is

no

such

thing

as

“not

When people say, “We have no communication,”

really what

true.

variables

are

and

Gestures?

Or other means?”

We how

are are

always we

communicating;

communicating?

the

Talk?

This definition of communication also tells us there are two dimensions to communication; a giving and a receiving.

A

woman once said, “It is as if my husband lives on a mysterious island and I have been circling that island for twenty years and cannot find a place to land my boat.” Imagine that you and your spouse are on separate islands and you can only communicate by radio.

To communicate by radio,

one spouse must turn on the transmitter and send a message, and the other spouse must turn on their receiver and receive that message.

Sometimes, communication problems can be traced to the

fact that one or both spouses will not turn on their transmitter and send a communication to the other. do

transmit

confused.

communication,

their

And sometimes when they

message

is

distorted

and

Then there are those times when the communication

problems can be traced to the fact that one or both of the 25

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

spouses will not turn on their receivers, or when they do, their receivers are not tuned to the right frequency. The

way

that

a

communication

is

received

important as the way communication is sent.

is

just

as

When a turtle comes

out from under its shell, if you stomp on it, it will pull back in its shell and will not come out for a long time. are like that too. personal

with

We humans

Imagine that you share something deeply

your

spouse.

If

that

communication

is

not

properly received, you will pull back into your shell and you may not come out for a long time. If you cannot communicate, you have not got the tool with which to cultivate and maintain your oneness. on your relationship.

You can not work

It is possible to dramatically improve

your communication and have this tool that makes it possible to really work on your marriage. Unlike the relationship between a parent and a child, which from

the

time

it

begins

at

birth

is

destined

to

marriage relationship draws two people together.

part,

the

Marriage is

designed to be like the sides of a pyramid that merge together. A husband and wife should get closer and closer and closer. Communication gives us a tool that makes it possible for us to do that.

If a couple does not have good communication, they do

not have the tool God has designed to equip them to work on improving their relationship. Communication problems come in at least two forms. form is arguments.

One

Some couples cannot communicate for five

minutes without arguing about something.

The other form is

simply the opposite — silence. Now, silence does not always mean you have a communication problem, but it often does. different.

People are

Many people are uncomfortable with silence.

them, silence is awkward.

Some are the “silent types” who

not need to talk.

26

To do

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

One of my good friends is the quietest man I know.

One day

a lady said to him, “You do not have much to say, do you?” friend said,

My

“When water is deep, it is still and silent.

when it is shallow, it babbles.” to the lady.

But

My friend was not being unkind

He was simply making his point.

So if you are married to one of those silent types, it does not necessarily mean that you have a communication problem. of

the

most

beautiful

ways

of

being

together

is

One

to

have

communion, which is the root meaning of the word communication. You can be so very comfortable together that you do not have to talk to be together.

Silence does not always mean there is a

communication problem. However, “silent contempt” is a form of communication, and can mean that you have a communication problem.

If your spouse

is treating you with silent contempt that means you upset him or her, and so he or she is using their silence to communicate with you.

A woman whose husband often did that to her said, “You

have to listen real close when he is not talking to hear what he is saying.” We do communicate by talk, gestures and other means.

Those

other means can be silence, a thrown dish, a slammed door, and a fist pounding on door or wall. hand

on

the

shoulder,

communication. communicating.

So

you

an

On the positive side, a smile, a

embrace,

see,

there

or is

tears no

such

are

forms

thing

as

of not

Sometimes we are communicating through gestures

and other means and without words, but those other means are very eloquent communication. all

things

words.”

preach

Christ.

Francis of Assisi once said, “In When

absolutely

necessary,

use

Effective communication, whether positive or negative,

does not always require words. I had a speech professor once who came into a very noisy classroom.

He went up to the table in front of the classroom

and slammed his open hand down on the table. 27

It sounded like a

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

shotgun

blast,

shouted

with

and

a

as

loud

he

slammed

voice,

“I

want

students were hushed to silence. just demonstrated for us. words.

Fifty-five

percent

his

hand

on

absolute

the

table

anarchy!”

he The

He then explained what he had

Seven percent of communication is of

communication

is

the

inflection

upon those words, and thirty-eight percent is the body language that accompanies the words that are spoken. want absolute anarchy.”

He had said, “I

That did not control the classroom.

If

people had understood what he had said, that would have had the opposite effect.

Instead, what quieted the classroom was the

inflection upon his words. say,

“I

want

this

class

By his tone we understood him to to

come

to

order!”

And

that

was

reinforced when he slammed his hand on the table. In Summary Communication is not simply what is said; it is also what is heard.

Communication is not simply what is said; it is also

what is received.

Communication is not simply what is said; it

is also what is felt based upon gestures and those other means. Communication

is

not

simply

concept that is conveyed.

what

is

said;

it

is

the

total

Communication is not simply what is

said; it is also sometimes what people want to hear.

All these

things leave the receiver with a “total impression” of what has been communicated by talk, gestures, and other means. Communication Problems As a pastor, over many years, I have asked couples, “Did you ever have good communication?” answer

has

assignment.

been

“Yes.”

I

gave

Almost without exception the many

of

these

couples

an

If their problem was that they did not talk any

more, I would ask them to make a list of all the reasons why they stopped talking to their spouse.

If the problem was that

they could not communicate without getting angry, I asked them 28

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

to make a list of all the reasons why they became angry while talking

with

their

spouse.

I

called

these

problems

“communication circuit breakers”. Over the years I collected those lists and studied them.

I

identified more than twenty common communication problems that turned up on most of these lists.

Here are

a few samples of

those problems; see if any of them sound familiar to you: 1.

Not

interested.

A

wife

recorded

that

she

told

husband one evening, “The baby found his thumb today.” excited

about

the

baby’s

paying attention to her. reading the newspaper. realize

they

are

progress,

but

her

husband

her

She was was

not

He was mentally still at work or was Nobody wants to communicate when they

talking

to

themselves.

Worse

yet,

not

listening means something more serious — not interested.

It

says to the woman, “I am not interested in you and the baby.” According to her, his not being interested meant that he did not love her and the baby. 2. No initiation. receiving.

Remember, communication is giving and

One day a spouse realizes, “I am always the giver.

He/she never contributes anything to our communication. they ever do is respond.”

All

If communication is a bridge, the

husband and wife should each come halfway.

If one of them must

continuously build the whole bridge, they become discouraged and stop trying to communicate. 3. A contentious and quarrelsome spouse. Solomon said that a contentious (quarrelsome) woman and a constant dripping on a rainy day are the same (Proverbs 27:15).

Actually, men and

women are equally gifted at being contentious.

A contentious

person contends or challenges everything their spouse proposes. If you bring up a new idea, the contentious person will always oppose

it.

It

is

very

difficult,

and

sometimes

impossible, to communicate with a contentious person.

29

seems

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

4. Failure to recognize your spouse’s need for solitude. It is no reflection upon your intimacy if your spouse still needs some space for himself or herself. by that reality.

Do not be threatened

Remember, even though the “two become one” in

marriage, there is a practical sense in which we are still two. 5. Sometimes communication problems are caused by physical, emotional, and spiritual problems in one or both of the spouses in

a

marriage.

When

that

is

the

case,

no

communication study will resolve those problems.

amount

of

The solutions

to those problems must be found spiritually, physically, and emotionally often outside the relationship. 6. and

Health problems dramatically impact the communication

relationship

of

married

couples.

Always

consider

the

possibly that a physical problem could be the explanation at the source of difficult communication.

This is especially true when

the person who is very difficult to communicate with was not always that way.

Psychological problems can also negatively

impact communication.

If your spouse has serious emotional or

health problems, he or she must find the help they need. Scriptural Solutions Sometimes, the underlying problem is simply selfishness. One or both partners is not others-centered but self-centered. That

is

why

listening.

he

is

not

interested.

That

is

why

he

is

not

When the problem is selfishness, the solution is

unselfishness.

The

Golden

Rule

is

the

solution.

Jesus

instructed us to consider what we would like others to do for us and then do those things for them. (Matthew 7:12)

This great

teaching of Jesus can transform the communication of a married couple.

Each spouse must be others-centered and be genuinely

interested in the issues that matter to their partner. Many communication problems can be overcome by asking God for wisdom.

One of my favorite verses is James 1:5, which says, 30

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God.”

Again and

again we should find ourselves praying to God, “I do not know what to do.

I need wisdom that I do not have.

ask for it, so I am asking.”

You tell us to

You will be amazed at how He

delights to give wisdom to His people when they ask Him for that wisdom.

Therefore, when your communication challenges bring you

to the place that you do not know what to do, ask God for wisdom. How to Communicate with a Difficult Person There is another passage of Scripture that shows us how to resolve difficult communication problems. Paul gave to Timothy:

Listen to this advice

“Do not have anything to do with foolish

and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

In meekness,

instructing those who oppose themselves, in the hope that God will

grant

them

repentance

leading

them

to

acknowledge

the

truth, and that they recover themselves and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:23–26) If your spouse is a “difficult person,” it is as if he or she

has

been

taken

captive

by

Satan.

dungeon and you can not get them out.

They

are

in

Satan’s

Only God can free them.

But here is what you can do to maintain the fruit of the Spirit.

Three

fruit

of

the

Spirit

are

passage: meekness, patience, and gentleness.

mentioned

in

this

If you maintain

the fruit of the Holy Spirit, that will keep the door open for God to work through you and close the door on the devil. will

give

you

the

opportunity

to

earn

your

hearing

This and

eventually place before your spouse the truth than can set him or her free.

Paul’s emphatically warns the servant of the Lord

31

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

(you) that you must not strive or argue, because that closes the door for God and opens the door for the devil. As

you

prayerfully

communicating

with

a

apply

this

difficult

prescription

person,

you

of

Paul

should

for

always

consider the possibility that you could be the one who is the difficult spouse.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:5, “First take the

plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Having a plank or a

log in our eye can blind us and make it impossible for us to realize that we are the difficult person Paul is describing in this passage. Another biblical solution, especially when your spouse has psychological or physical problems, is to pray the prayer that Jesus prayed from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Think: in the midst of His excruciatingly painful death, Jesus prayed that prayer for His enemies.

If Jesus prayed that for His enemies, cannot

you pray that for your spouse?

If they are not responsible for

what they are doing because of some psychological or physical health problems, it could work miracles for you to pray this prayer of Jesus for them. Family Communication If you and your spouse have children, the communication factor is a lot bigger than simply the two of you.

It is

important to recognize the many “communication combinations” in your family and make time for each of them.

For example, the

communication of the husband and wife is the most important communication in a family.

Another is the father and mother,

which I like to describe as a “board meeting.” mix

those

two

communication

priorities.

You should not Make

time

for

communication as husband and wife, and set apart other times for your communication as parents. 32

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

In addition, there are all the communication combinations between parents and children.

At times you should prioritize

the time and place to communicate individually with each child, and other times to communicate together as a family. forget

the

parents.

need

of

siblings

to

communicate

And do not

without

their

In our home, when my wife and I heard our children

communicating with each other, we called that the “sounds of the siblings,” and it was music to our ears. The Cycle of Life Imagine

a

pie third

cut

in

of

your

three

pieces.

lives

as

a

Let

married

each

piece

represent

one

couple

with

children.

In the normal cycle of life, we spend about one-third

of our lives being nurtured by our parents, one-third of our lives nurturing children with our spouse, and one-third in the “empty nest,” when the children have left home. spend

two-thirds

of

our

lives

with

our

This means we spouse.

The

communication relationship we must prioritize is the one with our spouse, because it will continue long after our children are grown and gone.

Another reason why this must be our priority

communication is that all the other relationships are greatly damaged if the communication between husband and wife breaks down. Many first. their

parents

make

the

mistake

of

putting

the

children

If they neglect their relationship with each other, when nest

is

relationship.

empty,

they

may

realize

that

they

have

no

It is tragic when marriages break up at that

point because fathers and mothers forgot that they were also man and wife.

Communication gives you a tool with which you can

strengthen

the

most

important

33

relationship

in

your

home.

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

Chapter 5 The Compatibility Link Compatibility is the evidence of the oneness God designed for a husband and wife.

The concept of compatibility makes many

people think of physical compatibility or infatuation. compatibility

is

important,

but

compatibility

not

only

chemistry, it also relates to issues like our values. values compatible?

Physical means

Are your

This is where marriages get into trouble.

Sometimes young people get married and they do not even talk about their spiritual compatibility.

After they get married

they

incompatible

often

discover

that

they

are

in

their

spiritual values. For example, a young wife becomes pregnant and her husband tells her to have an abortion. that.

She says, “I’m not going to do

It goes against my faith.”

He responds, “What does your

faith that have to do with our problem? baby.

Get

an

abortion!”

She

We cannot afford a

eventually

gets

a

divorce.

Another area of values clarification that frequently leads to divorce today is the role definition of a husband and wife.

It

is imperative that a husband and wife agree on the roles and responsibilities each plans to assume, and expects of the other, before they make the commitment of marriage. You must be compatible in values with the person you marry. If you are both one in Christ, and your values are based on the Word of God, think of the compatibility that gives you!

Your

spiritual compatibility will be the foundation upon which you will define the roles and responsibilities each fulfill in your relationship.

of you must

Your spiritual foundation will

define spiritual and moral issues, how you spend your time and

34

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

money, what you both want for your children and every other area of your life together. The history of the word compatibility goes back to a time when people must have felt that way about life.

Compatibility

comes from root words that mean “with” and “to suffer.”

Years

ago two people were considered compatible for marriage when they decided to “suffer with each other.”

That sounds like a real

negative approach to life, but that was reality. hard back then.

Life was very

Have you ever gone into the graveyard of an old

church and realized how many of those headstones marked the graves of children? families.

One

In past generations, people often had big

reason

was

they

knew

that

if

they

had

ten

children, maybe five of them would survive. Compatibility important

is

one

communication

many

relationship

between husband and wife. that trial together.

of

reasons in

a

that

family

the is

the

most one

If you lose a child, you go through

You grieve and suffer together.

you lose your spouse, you suffer alone.

But when

I have heard many

devout marriage partners confirm the reality, that when they are right with the Lord and with their spouse, they can handle any hardship.

That is a good paraphrase summary of the original

meaning of the word

“compatibility.”

However, today the common usage of this word has brought us to

its

current

meaning,

suited for one another.” values,

and

purposes.

which

is:

“two

people

who

are

well

They have similar personality traits, What

people

discover

after

they

are

married is that every human being has a set of strengths and weaknesses.

Typically, the weaknesses do not show up at the

beginning of marriage.

But after being married a while, spouses

become aware of the fact that they are living with a set of strengths and weaknesses.

Unfortunately, as that hard reality

surfaces, many married people today are deciding, “I do not

35

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

believe that we are compatible anymore and I have found someone with whom I am compatible.” Divorce

and

separation

are

common

these

days

because

society says incompatibility is a basis for ending a marriage. In fact, in various cultures you can find all sorts of legal reasons

for

divorce.

The

Bible

allows

divorce, and it is not incompatibility.

only

one

reason

It is infidelity.

for As I

have already observed, the marriage contract has one condition and that is the condition of exclusiveness.

This condition

means that God does not require us to live in this relationship with someone who will not live with us exclusively. Acceptance Our understanding of compatibility must include the concept of acceptance.

There are a lot of things in a marriage you

have to accept about your spouse. change.

He or she is not going to

So many people are naïve; they think once they are

married, they can change the traits about their mates that they do not like.

Women are especially guilty of this.

naive enough to think,

“After I marry him, I am going to charm

him into the man that I want him to be.” thinking.

They are

But that’s immature

After marriage, a man is going to be the person whom

she married and he is not going to change. Scripture makes fun of people for thinking they can even change

themselves.

For

example,

Jeremiah

asked,

“Can

the

Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither

can

(Jeremiah

you

13:23)

do The

good

who

Bible

are

is

accustomed

too

realistic

to to

doing tell

evil.” us

to

change. But, the Bible does tell us to meet certain conditions and then God can change us.

If you desperately need to change, or

you are convinced that your spouse must change, the only hope of that

change

is

for

you

and

your 36

spouse

to

be

born

again.

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

Through

the

new

birth,

God

can

change

us

and

make

us

new

creatures in and through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) With that exception, people do not change.

It is immature

to think you can change your spouse and it is even more immature to think that changing partners will solve your problem. will

soon

discover

that

you

have

merely

another set of strengths and weaknesses.

joined

yourself

You to

It is mature to ask

God to give you the grace to accept the strengths and weaknesses of your partner for life. As you consider your compatibility as a married couple, do not focus on the negatives, or the points of incompatibility. That kind of negativism can destroy a marriage. on the positive aspects of your compatibility. born again when he was nineteen.

Instead, focus A young man was

When he told the wise pastor

who led him to Christ that he was going to have a difficult time maintaining sexual purity, the pastor gave him some good advice. He said, “God has a woman for you and that is the ultimate solution to your struggle with sexual purity.” The new believer replied, “How do you know when you have met that woman?”

The pastor said, “Let me tell you.

Take a

piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle of the paper.

On the left side of that line, make a list of all the

attributes

you

would

like

to

intellectual, physical, etc. etc.

find

in

a

woman—spiritual,

Then, on the right side of

that line, next to the column of qualities and virtues you want to find in a wife, make a list of the qualities and virtues that kind of woman is going to be looking for in a man.

Look at that

list very carefully and ask yourself, ‘Am I that kind of man?’ If you are not, then you know what you have to do while you are praying and waiting to meet your ideal.” If you made similar lists, you would know your spouse when you saw him or her, because you would know what you were looking for.

I certainly did.

I made my lists and memorized them. 37

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

When I met my wife, I could have proposed on the spot, but I waited until the second date because I did not want her to think I was too forward! these

two

lists

in

Although you may not have literally had your

hand

when

you

met

your

spouse,

in

principle, you probably did the same thing. Once you are married, ask yourself, “What qualities in my spouse attracted me in the first place and caused me to choose him or her as a marriage partner?”

Sometimes people are married

so long that they forget about what initially attracted them to their spouse.

What qualities were you looking for?

those qualities does your spouse still have?

How many of

Then ask yourself,

“What qualities in your life attracted your spouse to you? many of those qualities do you still possess?”

How

Now, make a list

of all of the qualities in your spouse that you admire, and then make a list of the qualities your spouse admires about you. Pr. Dick Woodward has large highly polished rock that was to be used as a paperweight that his daughter gave him.

This

beautiful rock has this question written on the top: “If you are not as close to God as you used to be… ” Then, underneath the paperweight were these two words: “Who moved?” Now, ask that question about you and your spouse.

If you

are not as close to your spouse as you used to be, who moved? Did you move?

Did your spouse move?

Never forget the qualities

that drew you together in the first place. Areas of Compatibility To help you focus your old “compatibility lists” let’s take a

look

at

some

of

the

important

and

basic

areas

of

compatibility. One is physical compatibility.

In a good marriage, if the

sexual relationship is what God designed it to be, sex is about ten percent of the relationship.

But, if it is not what God

designed it to be, sex can be ninety percent of the problem. 38

So

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

many marriages break up over physical incompatibility.

How much

of your physical incompatibility, if you have any, would be resolved if you were spouse-centered instead of self-centered, or if you put that other person and their gratification at the center of the relationship? Compatibility also involves values. us a value is

The dictionary tells

“That quality of any certain thing by which it is

determined

by

us

profitable

and

to

be

therefore

more

or

less

desirable.”

whether we can define them or not.

important,

Everyone

has

useful, values,

Once two people are married,

this is an area where incompatibility really can be clearly seen.

Our values determine many things, such as how we spend

our time.

Do you ever have any conflict over that with your

spouse? Our values also determine the way we are going to spend our money. time.

Our money and possessions reflect the way we invest our So, when we spend our money, there is a sense in which we

are spending our lives. over finances?

Do you and your spouse ever disagree

When couples clash over how they are going to

spend their money, a profile is emerging that can be an accurate measure of their compatibility. How you raise your children is another area that reflects your values and measures your compatibility.

Together, you must

answer the questions, “What do we want for our children? education do we want for our children? children?”

When

a

husband

and

What

How do we discipline our

wife

have

very

different

backgrounds they are likely to have conflict when they answer these questions together. One

final

area

of

compatibility

important today is role definition.

that

is

especially

How do you perceive the

role of the husband and father? How do you perceive the role of the wife and mother?

As you define your roles, I would like to

ask you two questions: Are you getting your role definitions 39

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

from the culture or from the Scripture?

If you are getting

your role definitions from the culture, how are things going in your marriage and family? If you believe God created and blueprinted marriage, the way you define the roles in your relationship should be rooted in the Scripture.

Remember, the premise with which we began

these studies of marriage and family is that marriage and family is a law of life God established when He created man male and female.

In His Word He has given a blueprint for how couples

and families are to function.

If you believe the Bible is the

inspired Word of God, then you should come to the Scriptures looking for the divine plan for this role definition.

If a

husband and wife agree to get their role definitions from God’s blueprint,

that

will

give

them

great

potential

for

compatibility. Biblical Roles The

issue

of

marriage

role

definition

today

frequently

raises another issue, which we might call “the argument from culture.”

People will say that a particular Bible passage does

not apply today because of the culture that existed when the Bible was written.

This cultural factor invalidates the truth

that is taught in that Scripture. It is true that there are many passages that need to be culturally interpreted, such as First Corinthians 11, where Paul says that if a woman, by having her hair short, was advertising the fact that she was a prostitute, then a Christ-like woman should let her hair grow long.

If there is no such cultural

custom, then the length of a woman’s hair does not matter. But many Bible passages are “supra-cultural,” meaning they are not to be interpreted in light of the culture in which they were written.

We are to interpret our culture by the Scripture.

We are not to let culture interpret the Scripture. 40

Scripture

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

was

given

to

establish

godly

culture.

One

such

passage

is

Genesis where God created the woman as a helper, or completer for man.

The man was incomplete without the woman.

was incomplete without a man to complete. joined together are called “Adam”.

The woman

The man and woman

(Not “The Adamses.”)

Without a wife, a man is only a fragment of what he is meant to be. Without a husband, a woman is certainly incomplete. But

God

person.

brings

the

two

together

and

they

become

one

whole

That is supra-cultural (not affected by the cultural

context), biblical role definition. The Marriage Model of Peter Another

“supra-cultural”

passage

is

chapter of the First Epistle of Peter. Peter

made

reference

to

the

fact

found

in

the

third

In the previous chapter, that,

believers, we were like sheep going astray.

before

we

became

But, “now you have

returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (2:25) Then he begins chapter 3 with some advice to women who have husbands who are not obeying the Word.

He writes: “Wives, in

the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” (3:1) To husbands he writes: “Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (3:7) The key phrase in verses 1 and 7 is “in the same way.” what way?

In

Peter is referring to those words, “the Shepherd and

Overseer of your souls.”

In their writings, both Peter and Paul

consistently present a model for husbands and wives.

That model

is Christ and the Church. Peter is pointing to Christ and the church and he is asking husbands and wives, “Do you want to see God’s supra-cultural 41

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

blueprint for the roles of a man and wife? Christ shepherds the Church.

Husbands, shepherd your wives, as

Christ is the Shepherd of the Church. know your role as a wife? the church.

Then look at the way

Wives, do you want to

Then look at this model of Christ and

As your husband shepherds you, as he is as Christ

to you, be as the church is to Christ in your relationship with your husband. That is the spirit in which Peter writes this passage.

He

is essentially writing: “Wives, let your husband be like Christ to you.

Let him shepherd you.

the church.”

Let him love you as Christ loved

That is really what submission means for wives —

to let their husbands shepherd them the way Christ shepherds the church. The reason we do not see this model in the marriages of so many believers today is not that women will not submit to the shepherding

of

their

husbands,

although

that

problem

exists.

The primary obstacle to this marriage model being implemented and exhibited today is that men will not be as Christ to their wives.

They will not be the priests of their homes.

They will

not assume the responsibility to lead and shepherd their wives and families. The Marriage Model of Paul In

the

fifth

chapter

of

Ephesians,

Paul

holds

up

a

blueprint for the role definitions of husbands and wives that parallels Peter’s blueprint.

Paul writes in verse 21: “Submit

to one another out of reverence for Christ.” calls for mutual submission.

Observe that Paul

Husbands and wives must submit to

one another because by nature we are self-centered.

When some

devout couples read that the two are to be one, they spend many years asking, “Which one?”

In order for two to become one, to

42

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

make a marriage work, both the husband and wife must submit to one another.

That is the essence of love.

Paul continues, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the

head of the Church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Now as

the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (22–24) Obviously, Paul is doing the same thing Peter did in his inspired marriage counsel. of

Christ

and

the

Peter and Paul hold up the paradigm

church

and

they

both

write

their

role

definitions for husbands and wives using Christ and the church as their model.

This model of Christ and the church had nothing

to do with the cultures of Asia Minor or Rome.

These blueprints

for marriage revolutionized the corrupt and sinful cultures of their

day.

apostles cultures.

We

and

must

remember

disciples

to

that

Jesus

accommodate

did

the

not

values

teach of

His

their

He challenged them to revolutionize their cultures.

Now, the assignment given to the women in Paul’s marriage counsel requires supernatural grace.

But the assignment given

to the men requires much more supernatural grace.

For we men

are commanded to love our wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (25) In exactly the same way Christ loves the Church, husbands are to love their wives and families.

Just as Christ gave Himself for the church, husbands

are commanded to give themselves for their wives and families. Jesus commanded men to “Be even as God is… perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

Paul wrote to the Colossians that our only hope is the

miracle that Christ lives in us.

If Christ lives in us, it is

possible - even natural - for us to be just as Christ is, as we love and give ourselves for our wives. (Colossians 1:27) Women, if you had a husband who loved you and your children in exactly the same way Christ loves the Church, would it be so hard to let him shepherd you?

Would it be so hard to let him be 43

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

the head of the home and let him assume the responsibility to lead the home? In some ways, the women get off easy.

Peter essentially

writes to wives, “Let your husband shepherd you, and be sweet about it.”

That is really what Peter means when he writes “that

they may be won over … by the behavior of their wives. gentle

spirit

is

precious

in

submitting to your husband.

God’s

sight.”

Be

sweet

But Peter writes,

“No, let your

submission be genuine; let it be from the inside. husband.

And be silent.

about

So many women submit on the outside

but resist on the inside. about it.

A quiet,

Be sweet

Simply live out the Word before your

If anything ever will challenge him to stand in his

place, it will be when he sees you standing in your place.” Remember that Peter is addressing these words to wives who have husbands that are not obeying the Word. these husbands are not believers.

This may mean

It could mean that their

husbands are believers but they are not being to their wives as Christ is to the church.

There is a place in which a husband

and wife are to stand in a marriage according to Jesus, Peter, and Paul.

We should remember that Peter is addressing these

words to wives who have husbands that are not standing in their assigned places. In Summary Essentially, Peter is telling these wives that they are not to push their husbands into place, preach them into their place, or pull them into place. in

their

places.

He

By the grace of God, they are to stand is

not

telling

these

wives

that

his

prescription will always lead to the conversion or the changed behavior of their husbands.

His counsel is that if anything

will solve their problem it will be the example they are to their husbands that can challenge their husbands to stand in their rightful place. 44

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

Chapter 6 The Love Link The spiritual dimension is the foundation of the oneness God has designed for a husband and wife.

Communication is a

tool with which a married couple can cultivate and maintain their oneness.

Compatibility is the evidence of their oneness.

Love is the great dynamic of the oneness God designed when He declared that the two are to be one flesh. This

is

a

good

question

for

couples

to

ask

themselves

before they enter into a marriage: “When you say, ‘I love you,’ to one another, what do you mean?

Do you mean, ‘I have this

need and you meet that need better than anybody I have ever met?’

When you say,

need you?”

“I love you,” are you really saying, “I

If that is your interpretation of the concept of

love, you do not have a biblical perspective on the meaning of this word “love.” When you say, ‘I love you,’ do you mean, ‘Your well-being is as important to me as my own well being?’”

That is better,

but it still does not define biblical, Christ-like love. The

biggest

problem

in

marriages

is

selfishness.

Conversely, the greatest dynamic in marriage is unselfishness, other - centeredness, or the ability to put the other person at the center and think about how you can meet his or her needs. When you discover the biblical definition of love, you will see that

Christ-like

because

the

love

love of

is

Christ

the

greatest

makes

genuinely unselfish.

45

it

dynamic

possible

in

for

marriage us

to

be

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Marriages can

be revolutionized when that one

teaching of Jesus is applied. they are takers.

When many people get married,

They are trying to take from each other to

meet their own needs.

If both are takers and neither one is a

giver, neither one is getting anything.

But, oh, how things

change when they realize it is more blessed to give than to receive! If you have not learned to be others-centered, do not have children.

Just as the commitment to be married should be based

on

guidance,

divine

devout

couples

should

not

have

children

until the Lord leads them to bring children into their marriage and into this world.

Having children is the most unselfish

thing a couple can do.

Over the twenty or twenty-five years

they are nurturing their children, they must give and give and give without any return.

If they are good parents, when the

children leave their home, they get married and then give to their

children.

That

is

a

proposition

that

requires

unselfishness. I am one of what may be a vanishing species today.

I was

blessed to have a devout mother who believed in God’s blueprint for marriage and family.

My godly mother had eleven children.

One day I asked her, “If you had it to do all over again, would you have all us children?”

She replied, “Yes, I would, but

before I did, I would decide that I was not going to have a life of my own.”

Maybe it sounds odd to you that my mother would

choose to not have “a life of her own”. One

of

the

absolutes

of

the

twenty-first

century

adult is their right to “get a life” and live that life.

young That’s

why many women are offended by the thought that they are to complete a man.

Men are also just as offended by the thought

that they should love their wives and give themselves to their wives just as Christ loved and gave Himself for the church. 46

How

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

can you get a life and live that life for yourself and still give yourself for your wife and family?

The answer is that you

cannot. It was said of Christ “He saved others, but Himself He could not save.” (Matthew 27:42) To love with the love of Christ you must sacrifice your life for those you love.

My mother

loved her husband and children with the love of Christ. why she had no life of her own. married

a

marriage.

long

time,

and

That’s

But, she was happy!

not

once

did

She simply read the Bible.

she

read

She was

a

book

on

She was a happy wife and

mother because she found the dynamic of her marriage in her Bible. The “love style” she chose to live contradicts the attitude of

the

“me”

generation.

So

does

this

statement

of

Jesus:

“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Or this teaching of Jesus: “The

only way to find your life is to lose your life.” (Luke 9:24)

A

missionary who was martyred for his faith wrote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose.” Deliberately sacrificing your life for another, or others, is the greatest love there is.

That is precisely the kind of love

you see in the role definition of the man and woman who are joined

together

in

the

marriage

that

is

blueprinted

in

the

Bible. I call this quality of love the dynamic of the oneness.

To

summarize: The spiritual relationship the couple has with Christ individually communication

and is

together the

is

the

tool

foundation

that

of

maintains

the the

oneness; oneness;

compatibility is the evidence of the oneness, and love is the dynamic that drives the oneness.

47

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

So, what is love? “What do you mean when you say to her, “I love you?” As I have asked men that question, I have been amazed at how men will stumble to find the right words, or be unable to explain what they think love is.

The truth is, when we marry young, we may

not know the first thing about love. When a young man says, “I love you,” to an attractive young woman, what he probably means is, “I love me and I want you.”

If that is all a man means when

he tells his young bride he loves her, that leaves his wife insecure, because later on the husband may find someone who meets that need better than she does. The Love Chapter of the Bible Let

me

share

with

you

what

I

believe

is

the

greatest

statement ever written about the love of God and of Christ.

It

is recorded in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, a passage with which you may be familiar. primary

subject

Corinthians.

when

he

wrote

these

Love was not Paul’s

inspired

words

to

the

He was actually writing about spiritual gifts, and

it was to put spiritual gifts in perspective that he wrote this inspired chapter about love. Love Compared (1-3) “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have

not

cymbal.

love,

I

have

become

sounding

brass

or

a

clanging

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand

all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1-3) In writes

the

first

that

love

three is

verses

of

this

incomparable

and

48

great

chapter,

irreplaceable.

Paul He

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

essentially writes, “Nothing I am, nothing I have, nothing I do, and nothing I ever become, have, or will do can take the place of love in my life.”

In Paul’s day, those who lived in the

Greek Corinthian culture were famous for their eloquent oratory and

their

philosophy.

emphasis The

on

intellectual

believers

in

pursuits,

Corinth

also

especially

highly

spiritual gifts, especially the gift of tongues.

regarded

That’s why

Paul compares love to eloquence, tongues of angels, and having all knowledge, to prioritize the incomparable and irreplaceable love of which he is writing. Paul then mentions the gift of prophecy, which he will later call the greatest of the spiritual gifts. (I Corinthians 14:1) chapter

He also compares love to faith and he concludes this telling

eternal values.

us

that

faith

is

one

of

the

three

greatest

As the greatest missionary the church has ever

known, we realize how important faith is to Paul.

Yet he writes

that if we have faith without love, we are nothing.

As Paul

compares love to these values the Corinthians highly esteemed, he concludes: “None of these can replace love in your life, because of what love is.” Love Contrasted (8-13) “Love never fails. will fail.

But whether there are prophecies, they

Whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether

there is knowledge, it will vanish away. and we prophesy in part.

For we know in part

But when that which is perfect has

come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was

a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.

Now I

know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (8-l3) 49

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

At the end of this chapter, Paul summarizes his comparisons of love when he shares with us that there are three things that really last, that are eternal values: hope, faith, and love. But, he concludes that the greatest of these eternal values is love.

Hope is a lasting value because it leads us to faith.

One day our hope, or the conviction that there is something good in this life, is given substance when it leads us to faith. (Heb. 11:1)

Faith is one of the lasting values because faith

leads us to God.

But, when we discover love, we have not

discovered something that leads us to something that leads us to God.

We have discovered God, because there is a quality of love

that

is

God.

incomparable.

That

is

why

love

is

irreplaceable

and

God is love. (I John 4:16)

Love Clustered (4-7) “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does

not

parade

itself,

is

not

puffed

up;

does

not

behave

rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” In his devotional classic, The Greatest Thing in the World, Henry Drummond wrote of verses 4 through 7, “In these verses, the Holy Spirit passes the concept of divine love through the prism of Paul’s inspired intellect, and it comes out on the other

side

focused

in

as

a

these

cluster four

of

verses

virtues.” of

First

Fifteen

virtues

Corinthians.

If

are you

examine these virtues, you will find yourself examining a cross section of divine love and an analysis of the very nature of God since we are told that God is love. (I John 4:16) It is very difficult to define God or the love that is God. With great wisdom, and in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul is telling us how divine love behaves. 50

He is essentially

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

saying, “If you have this love of which I am writing, this is the

way

you

will

find

intersect your life.”

yourself

relating

to

the

people

who

In another inspired letter, Paul tells us

that this quality of love is the fruit, evidence, or proof that the Holy Spirit lives in us. (Galatians 5:22)

In these four

verses in the heart of this love chapter, Paul places that love under a spiritual microscope. I would like to challenge you to do something.

Carefully

consider these fifteen virtues that express this divine love. As you do, put your spouse, your children, and others at the center of each of these virtues that express the fruit of the Spirit coming out of your life. People have an uncanny ability to turn this passage around and think, “Now, that is the way my spouse and other believers should love me.”

No, Paul is saying,

“This is the way you should love your spouse and others.” Many years ago, when our first child was two years old, I secretly observed as she went into our church nursery.

I was

shocked when she grabbed a plastic toy from the hand of a baby and said, “Jesus said we’re supposed to share!” had

not

yet

profiling

learned

for

us

in

the

true

this

meaning

of

chapter.

the

We

Clearly, she love

adults

Paul are

is

more

sophisticated about it, but we often do the very same thing. When we study this passage on love, many of us think, “This is the way my spouse should love me!”

As you look at these virtues

that express divine love, do not think about how your spouse is supposed to love you. this way?”

Ask yourself, “Am I loving my spouse in

Now, let’s look at these virtues one at a time:

Love “suffers long.” that love is merciful. does

not

“get

even,”

The Greek word Paul used here means

This love never avenges itself. even

when

it

has

the

right

and

Love the

opportunity to do so. Love “does not envy.”

A word that is synonymous with the

Greek word Paul used here would be the word “generous.” 51

This

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

describes the unselfish commitment of one person to another—a sanctified

altruism.

Are

you

fiercely

committed

to

the

proposition that you are going to unselfishly give of your time, energy, and whatever else it may take to see that all the needs and desires of your spouse are going to be met? the

word

that

is

translated

“does

not

That is what

envy”

means

in

the

original language. “Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.”

This is

translating a Greek word that means the person loving this way is not boastful. They

will

not

He or she has no need to impress other people. have

inflated

ideas

of

because this love makes them humble.

their

own

importance

They will be the direct

opposite of the proud and arrogant of this world. The Two Dimensions of Divine Love All these virtues have an outward and an inward dimension. Outwardly, love behaves this way because there is an inward reality that produces that outward expression of love. this in verse 5: “Love does not behave rudely.” does not behave improperly.

We see

Outwardly, love

It behaves politely, courteously,

and in a proper manner because inwardly it does not seek its own way.”

Thanks to that same inward reality, this love is not

easily provoked. (5) It is not touchy, it is unflappable because it is not driving its own agenda and insisting on having its own way.

It is difficult to anger a person who loves and is others-

centered.

That is the outward expression of the reality that

inwardly they are not consumed with selfishness, ego, pride, and attitude that says it is my way or no way. Love “thinks no evil.”

This is translating a word Paul

used that means love does not keep score, or that this love does not keep a record of the love object’s wrongs. score on your spouse? love

of

Christ

in

Do you keep

If you do, that is not coming from the

your

heart. 52

The

reason

why

this

love

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

outwardly does not keep score is that inwardly it “rejoices not in iniquity.”

This means that the person loving with the love

of Christ is not pleased when the love object fails. love object fails, the lover is grieved. want the love object to fail.

He or she does not

Inwardly he or she is pleased

when the love object succeeds. truth” means.

If the

That’s what “rejoices in the

Being pleased when the truth prevails in the love

object’s life is an expression of the love of Christ. Verse 7 tells us that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” love object does fail, the lover keeps it quiet. “bears all things” means.

When the That’s what

Love has the faith to see and believe

in the potential of the love object.

This does people so much

good! When I was a teenager with very little apparent potential, my pastor did this for me and it meant so much to me. to say, “I believe in the ultimate you.”

At the time I did not,

and I did not know anybody else who did either. much to me that he did. but he was not.

He used

It meant so

At first I thought he might be joking,

He really believed in me.

He “believed all

things.” Because love has the faith to see the potential in another, it

hopes

all

things,

which

means

it

joyfully

fulfillment of what it sees and believes.

waits

for

the

And then, while it is

believing and waiting for the fulfillment of what it sees in the love object, it endures all things.

It can take anything. The

Greek word used in the original text means “to persevere while believing and waiting.” inwardly

the

lover

has

All this is expressed outwardly because this

sanctified

confidence.

Their

confidence is not in the love object as much as it is in what it believes Christ can you in, with and through that love object. Finally, Paul assures us that “love never fails.” to love, but love never fails.

We fail

The one loving knows that the 53

Booklet #6: Family and Marriage (Part 1)

love

with

which

he

or

she

loves

will

never

ultimately

powerless or without affect upon the love object.

fall

In other

words, the lover can say to the loved one, “Nothing you ever say or do can make me stop loving you, because I am loving you with the love of Christ and that love is tough.

It endures all

things.” In light of these fifteen virtues, look at your spouse and ask, “When I say I love her (or him), what do I mean?”

If the

Holy Spirit is in you, you have the capacity to love your spouse with this cluster of virtues.

This is the dynamic God designed

to drive the oneness between two people who have the marriage God had on His heart when He made Adam male and female.

Without

this dynamic, your oneness is a fragment of the Spirit of the law of marriage and family.

But if, by the grace of God, you

have this dynamic, that love can make your oneness everything that God intends for it to be.

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